California Dreaming

Coming to an end

We’ve had a great few days in LA.  There is more to do than you first think and not all of it is Hollywood/Disney based.  We’ve Walked from Venice to Santa Monica and visited the pier, we’ve (briefly) been to the walk of fame (very tacky).  We’ve been to the Griffith Observatory (fasinating) and the Huntington Library and Gardens (remarkable).  We celebrated Letitia’s 13th Birthday with St Patrick day cup cakes and the girls had a surf lesson (from a Hawaiian).  We are visiting the Getty art gallery today before heading for the airport.  It feels like we have been here forever.















Photos are in no particular order.

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You know you are in LA when…

…you get woken up by an earthquake.  Worst in 20 years apparently.



We are all fine, no damage.


Big hole in the ground



















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“I want to be a cowgirl, daddy….”

“I don’t want to be a good girl-
Good girls have no fun.
I can’t play quiet games indoors,
I love the rain and sun.
I don’t want to be a girly girl
Who likes to sit and chat.
I just want to be a cowgirl, Daddy,
What’s so wrong with that?”


So, we quit San Diego and headed east. We went to places where they have tumbleweed and sagebrush and creosote bush, where there is a very real possibility of meeting a rattlesnake and having to say “howdy” with a straight face. We went to a ranch.


The ranch was in Arizona and getting there involved driving 17 miles away from metalled roads and mains drainage, down dirt roads all named after Doc Holliday. To be fair, what appeared at the end of this little dust-filled odyssey was a quite magnificent little place named the “Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch.”


As dude ranches go, this is a tiddler: 50 head of horse and only two wranglers – one called Tex and the other called Cody. But they are without doubt the real deal: knowledgeable, full of dry humour and wise in the matters of horses.


And we rode. We galloped across the Mohave desert, up and down sand-filled washes on horses with names like Winchester, Ace, Dusty, Montana and Rodeo. The best bit was that we could all ride together. When I get home, serious consideration will be given to the notion of acquiring both some more horseflesh and a western saddle.


I liked being a cowboy.


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Leaving San Diego

On the whole we were very sad to be leaving San Diego even though we had other exciting things to do.  We stayed at such a great place – Casa Paloma – with such great people – Paula and Keith – that we could have stayed forever.


If you are ever in the area then this is the best place to stay.


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Harbour Seals

Continuing the wildlife theme, we wanted to go to see the seals that come to the beach at La Jolla – a rich suburb to the north of San Diego.  A concrete barrier and walkway had been constructed at one of the coves to make a beach that was safe for children to swim.  The local seals have decided that it is an ideal place and have moved in.


As free entertainment goes this has to be one of the best places ever.  The walkway provides a viewing platform where you can watch the seals sun bathing and swimming.  Some of the mothers were teaching their little ones to swim.  At the children’s beach there is a rope so you don’t get too close to the seals.  We went down to the next beach as you can see some of the seals in the water from there.  A seal came out of the water right by us and stared at us with sad eyes before making her way up the beach.  Her pup had died at the top of the beach and she was making her way up to his body.  It is one of the saddest things I have ever seen.


It is so good to see animals in their natural habitat doing natural things.  Apparently some of the locals don’t like it and think they are smelly and noisy (and that is just the tourists that come to see the seals).  There is a move to get them cleared out, but fortunately there is a stronger movement to protect them so for now they are safe.  The locals certainly don’t make a thing of it though, it is avery well to do neighbourhood and I didn’t see a cuddly seal for sale anywhere – shame.

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After La Jolla the plan was to hit the beach.  We headed down to mission beach for some lunch, but the beach was full of club 18-30 types with not a family in sight, so we ended up in Burger King for lunch (great chips) before heading out to the Cabrillo monument.  This monument celebrates the first European, Juan Rodrigez Cabrillo, to set foot on the west coast of the USA.  No settlements were made until the mid 18th century but he is still named as the person who discovered California.  It has the best views in San Diego.


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Midway aircraft carrier

After lunch we headed over to the Midway museum.  The midway is an aircraft carrier built by the US navy during the second world war, though it wasn’t completed until after the war was over.  It served until 1992 shortly after service in operation dessert storm.  In 2004 it was turned into a museum so you can walk around it and see what it was like.

It was really interesting to see the ship.  The most remarkable bit wasn’t seeing the planes or the flight deck, it was seeing everything that went on below deck to keep the ship running, from engineering to the laundry department.  The ship had 4500 crew so keeping it running must have been quite a feat.





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Moby Dick

We didn’t get to see Moby, but we did follow a pod of 3 grey whales for a bit and saw them surface and dive.  We were on quite a small boat compare to some of the whale watching vessels.  Ours was called the producer.


We sensibly dossed everyone up on dramamine before setting out, which was a good job as it was a bumpy ride.  About half the passengers missed the whales as they had their head in their hands (or over the side).


It is pretty difficult to photograph the whales, you only really see the head and the tail, and the later only as it is going under. They have about 3 breaths spaced about 20 seconds apart then they go under for several minutes.  As they go under they flip their tails.  This is all I managed to get;


But this is what I was trying to get:

whale tail

We ate lunch afterwards at the fish market just next to the jetty, which have a fast food type restaurant with the freshest fish you can imagine.


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San Diego Zoo

We are a bit behind on blog updates so I’m going to do 3 in quick succesion.  (by the way if my spelling is bad it is because the spell checker on the new computer doesn’t have English).

San Diego zoo was always high on our loist of things we wanted to do in California.  It was the reason we wanted to come to San Diego.  As it turns out there are lots of reasons to come to San Diego.  It is a lovely city and I would happily return to spend more time here.

The main attraction of San Diego Zoo is the fact they have pandas.  Now I’ve always thought the red panda was a lovely animal that deserves more credit.


See, isn’t he cute?  But the real pandas take all the glory.


We were lucky, it was a quietish day at the zoo so we didn’t nave to queue and the panda was awake and eating when we got there.  About 3 minutes after we arrived she stopped eating, turned around and went to sleep.  The volenteer giving the commentary said that would be it for about 3 hours.

Panda are all we and good but they have loads of other great animals at the zoo.  I mean have you ever seen a Tasmanian devil?  Me neither.


The orangutangs are pretty cool.


I’ve never seen a grizzly bear before.


Letitia was the star of the sea lion show.


Which also featured an owl – not quite sure why, I didn’t get the link.


But by far and away the stars of the day were the koalas.  They are just adorable.  And of course the fact that Jon bases our business model on the koala brothers (we’re here to help) just added to the exitement.


All in all an exellent day out.  The weather was beautiful, and there were a few pink shoulders at the end of it but it was definitely worth it.


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San Diego Botanical Gardens

Not perhaps the most obvious inclusion in a Californian road trip with 3 children but it was on our way between Anaheim and San Diego and we all like gardens.  It also provided the perfect antidote to a day at Disney and a mornings retail therapy.  The gardens are lovely, really well done especailly round the waterfall area and the children’s garden.  The latter includes one of the best tree houses I’ve ever seen.  A concrete tree so lifelike we all had to tap it in several places to convince ourselves it wasn’t real.  It has been planted up with strangler fig, which are starting to take over the concret structure.  Very clever.

The day also provide some good birdlife, including our first ever humming bird. We were eating an impromptu picnic lunch of peanut butter sandwiches (we were expecting there to be a cafe at the gardens – there isn’t) in the carport when a beautiful green feathered one appeared on the flower in front of the car.  The cameras weren’t out so no photo unfotunately though we did get an interesting looking thing on the pond a bit later.  not sure what it is though.








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